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Thread: African and Asian Elephants

  1. #1

    African and Asian Elephants

    Would these animals mate? Have they ever?

  2. #2
    Cosmic Truth Seeker
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    They are different species. They are as distinct from each other as the Mastodons and Mammoths from African elephants or Asian elephants. I believe studies have been done on those DNAs to see exactly when they diverged. Likewise, the Pygmy elephants of African are a separate species, quite distinct from the other African elephants.

    I'm not certain if they could be merged via artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, and it is likely that the product would be sterile if it survived to birth, but who knows, maybe they are close enough that they would not be sterile. I don't know of anyone working on that - trying to save them from extinction as their own species is tough enough.

  3. #3
    well, a donkey and a horse can make a mule, so why can't these elephants make something new?

  4. #4
    What the hell, man? Idle Mind's Avatar
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    A mule is infertile though. You can't take two mules and breed them together.

    So why would a new elephant hybrid that is infertile (if at all possible) be beneficial?

  5. #5
    Umm, the second poster conradicts themself. They claim its a seprate sepecies and then goes on to say they might be able to produce viable reproductive offspring. That would make them a SUBspecies. The defintion is that they can't breed together

  6. #6
    No that isn't THE definition of species.

  7. #7
    voltage gated ion channel Hercules Rockefeller's Avatar
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    As Mr Mac says, that members of different species cannot interbreed to form viable offspring is a loose definition of ‘species’ which does not always hold, especially in the plant kingdom.

  8. #8
    Ignorance killed the cat Randwolf's Avatar
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    People often ask if African and Asian elephants can interbreed. Because the species live in separate areas of the world this would not naturally happen. However, in captivity it is possible and did happen at the Chester Zoo in England in 1979. The resulting offspring lived only 10 days. This has been the only recorded case of the two species breeding. It is unlikely that any offspring would survive because of the physiological differences between them.
    I kind of have a thing for elephants, or as my daughter used to call them: "hephalumps".

  9. #9
    Why are they suddenly called "Asian" Elephants? Did the PC brigade decide caling them "Indian" Elephants was somehow racist?

    As to whether they would mate, theoretically possible, but owing to them living in entirely different parts of the world, unlikely, except in captivity.

  10. #10
    What the hell, man? Idle Mind's Avatar
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    I believe Asiatic elephants are not confined to India. Thailand comes to mind.

  11. #11
    Wikipedia says there have been rare instances of African and Asian elephants hybridizing in captivity through natural copulation. However, none of the offspring lived very long and they may have had serious genetic defects making survival difficult, much less experimentation with the breeding of a second generation.

    As for why we call them Asian elephants instead of Indian, it's because "Asia" is a more logical antithesis to "Africa" than the name of a country.

    The article does not talk about their range and population density, but as IM suggests, these days there may be more Asian elephants outside of India than inside.

    BTW, the definition of "species" has nothing to do with ability or inability to cross-breed. The hyacinthine macaw and the blue and gold macaw are not even members of the same genus, yet they have been successfully hybridized by aviculturists. The same is true of house cats and ocelots, which are well into multiple hybrid generations in the pet trade. The only requirement is that members of the same species must be willing and able to interbreed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    African and Asian elephant species have disjunct distributions, and do not hybridize in the wild. However, in 1978 at Chester Zoo, an Asian elephant cow gave birth to a hybrid calf sired by an African elephant bull. "Motty", the resulting hybrid male calf, had an African elephant's cheeks, ears (large with pointed lobes) and legs (longer and slimmer), but the toenail numbers, (5 for each front foot, 4 hind) and the single trunk finger of an Asian elephant. His wrinkled trunk was like that of an African elephant. His forehead was sloping with one dome and two smaller domes behind it. The body was African in type, but had an Asian-type center hump and an African-type rear hump. The calf died of infection 12 days later.[85] It is preserved as a mounted specimen at the British Natural History Museum, London. There are unconfirmed rumors of three other hybrid elephants born in zoos or circuses; all are said to have been deformed and none survived.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Idle Mind View Post
    A mule is infertile though. You can't take two mules and breed them together.

    So why would a new elephant hybrid that is infertile (if at all possible) be beneficial?
    well then why would a mule be beneficial?

    And I didn't ask if the offspring would be fertile, I asked if they could mate and if they ever have.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Orleander View Post
    well then why would a mule be beneficial?

    And I didn't ask if the offspring would be fertile, I asked if they could mate and if they ever have.
    Mules (as I just had to look up) have certain qualities of both species that make it a more useful animal than either a donkey or a horse. They are smarter than a donkey, but larger bodied like a horse. They are hardier than horses, they eat less, they have harder hooves. They can carry more than a donkey, but like a donkey, they will never let a rider put them in harms way. They have the steady personality of a donkey (but they aren't as friendly as a horse towards dogs).

  14. #14
    Cosmic Truth Seeker
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    In my prior post I referred to the African Forest elephant as the Pygmy elephant. It is more commonly called the forest elephant, though it is smaller in stature than the African savannah elephant.

    The following is a good article on the relationships of the five species, 2 extinct; mastodons, mammoths, Asian elephant, African Savannah elephant, African Forest elephant.

    "Our study of the extant elephantids provides support for the proposed classification of the Elephantidae by Shoshani and Tassy, which divides them into the tribe Elephantini (including Elephas—the Asian elephant and fossil relatives—and the extinct mammoths Mammuthus) and the tribe Loxodontini (consisting of Loxodonta: African forest and savanna elephants and extinct relatives). This classification is at odds with previous suggestions that the extinct mammoths may have been more closely related to African than to Asian elephants.

    Our study also infers a strikingly deep population divergence time between forest and savanna elephant, supporting morphological and genetic studies that have classified forest and savanna elephants as distinct species. "

    http://www.plosbiology.org/article/i...l.pbio.1000564

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Idle Mind View Post
    I believe Asiatic elephants are not confined to India. Thailand comes to mind.
    Oh I don't believe for a second they're confined to India, but when I grew up there was two species of Elephants, "African" and "Indian"(despite their geographical dispersion) and that was (apparently)it. I had no idea they changed it to "Asian".
    Quote Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker View Post
    As for why we call them Asian elephants instead of Indian, it's because "Asia" is a more logical antithesis to "Africa" than the name of a country.

    The article does not talk about their range and population density, but as IM suggests, these days there may be more Asian elephants outside of India than inside.
    I presume at some point another sub-species was added and the classification amended? I'm sure we have lots of strange names for animals which aren't quite accurate in some ways though.
    Next thing you'll tell me there's only 8 planets in the solar system.

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